This Orthodox neo-Byzantine-style church, which celebrated its first mass in 1861, is dedicated to Saint Alexander, the Grand Prince of Russia who died in 1263. Pablo Picasso married his first wife, the Russian dancer Olga Khokhlova, here in 1918 with friends Jean Cocteau, Max Jacob, and Guillaume Apollinaire on hand as best men (perhaps an excessively intellectual trio to look after one ring). On more somber days, Ivan Turgenev and Wassily Kandinsky were buried here in 1883 and 1944 respectively. The Cathédrale Saint-Alexandre-Nevsky, the golden onion domes of which brighten up any day in the 8th arrondissement, was made a historical monument in 1983.
Open for visits on Tuesday and Friday from 3:00pm to 5:00pm. Open on Sunday from 10:00am to 12.30pm and 3:00pm to 6:00pm (mass at 10:15am and vespers and matins at 6:00pm).
Cathédrale Grecque Saint-Étienne de Paris
Another church in the neo-Byzantine style, the Cathédrale Grecque Saint-Étienne de Paris was inaugurated in December 1895. It has borne witness to the funerals of some illustrious Greek nationals, including Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos, the father of modern Greece, in 1936, and Maria Callas in 1977, as well as some fairly noteworthy weddings. A year before her death in 1963, a 46-year-old Edith Piaf married a 26-year-old Théo Sarapo in the cathedral but this was nothing compared to the marriage of Greek politician Akis Tsohatzopoulos and Vicky Stamati in 2004. The couple raised eyebrows with their lavish spending, and Tsohatzopoulos ended up in prison after one of modern Greece’s most outrageous corruption scandals.
The Église Saint-Louis-en-l’Île was started in 1664 based on plans drawn up by Louis Le Vau and was completed in 1726, 56 years after the architect’s death. A bell tower was added in 1741, accommodating a clock that hangs perpendicularly to the street in a manner unusual for the churches of Paris. Numerous precious works of art can be found inside, including Saint John and Saint Peter Healing the Lame by Charles-André van Loo and The Supper at Emmaus by Antoine Coypel. Its organ is a modern addition from 2005, but the masterpiece by Bernard Aubertin blends perfectly into its baroque environment.
Monday to Saturday, 9:30am to 1:00pm and 2:00pm to 7:30pm; and Sunday, 9:00am to 1:00pm and 2:00pm to 7:00pm.
The foundations of the Église Saint-Sulpice are from the 12th century, but the church that we can see today was built 500 years later. Located in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés in the 6th arrondissement, this is one of Paris’ largest churches. The square to the fore is the perfect place to sit and admire its impressive two-towered façade, and inside some of its finest features are the statue of the Virgin Mary by Jean-Baptiste Pigalle, the mural paintings by Eugène Delacroix, and the large organ by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll.
Guided tour of the church at 2:30pm every Sunday. Guided tour of the crypts on the second and fourth Sunday of the month at 3:30pm. Tour of the upper parts of the façade (except the towers) on the fourth Saturday of the month at 2:00pm.
Grande Mosquée de Paris
On the southern edge of the Jardin des Plantes, just behind Paris’ Natural History Museum, is the Grande Mosquée de Paris, which was built between 1922 and 1936. A (literally) unmissable feature of this Hispano-Moresque building is its 33-meter-high minaret. Inside, in the style of the Alhambra in Granada is a patio surrounded by sculpted arcades and a magnificent garden with numerous water features. The intricate decoration and exquisite carpets of the prayer room are a must-see. It is also a social space, with a hammam, restaurant, tearoom, and souk-inspired shop.
Open during the summer from 9:00am to 12:00pm and 2:00pm to 7:00pm. Closing time is at 6:00pm during the winter.
Grande Pagode de Vincennes
The Grande Pagode de Vincennes is the largest Buddhist place of worship in Paris, and it also houses the largest statue of the Buddha in Europe. At nine meters in height and covered in gold, it is truly something to behold. This building is part of an 8,000 square meter complex that was repurposed after the Paris Colonial Exhibition of 1931 and is situated within the tranquil setting of the Bois de Vincennes park, near to the Lac Daumesnil.
Open Tuesday to Saturday from 2:00pm to 5:00pm (late opening on Wednesday to 7:00pm). The site is open to the public during major Buddhist festivals.
Grande Synagogue de Paris
Also known as the Synagogue de la Victoire, the Grande Synagogue de Paris was constructed in 1874 by Paris’ chief architect, Alfred-Philibert Aldrophe, with financing provided by the Rothschild family. The building has a stunning Romanesque façade and is located in the 9th arrondissement. It is the largest synagogue in Paris and is capable of seating 1,800 people. As the center of the spiritual life of the Jewish community in the French capital, great lengths have been gone to in preserving its religious, artistic, and cultural heritage. It is also the official seat of France’s Chief Rabbi.
Group tours are held in the morning from Monday to Friday.
The American Church in Paris
The American Church in Paris is the first of its kind to have been built outside of the United States. Its congregation can trace its roots to 1814 and the Oratoire du Louvre chapel. The first American sanctuary was built in 1857, and the current church was inaugurated in 1931. Today, people from some 40 nationalities and 35 Christian denominations choose to worship here. Its spire, which thrusts conspicuously above the treeline on the Left Bank is one the building’s most notable architectural features.
Open Monday to Saturday from 9:00am to 12:00pm and 1:00pm to 10.30pm, and Sunday from 9:00am to 2:00pm and 3:00pm to 7.30pm.